A Beginner’s Buying Guide to Model Trains

Whether you are 8 or 70, trains are a great hobby to have at almost any age level.  Kids who played model trains carry the hobby until adulthood and pass it down to their kids at some point. Kids love the fast allure and bright colors of model trains while adults are into the details, history and layouts model trains offer be it from Harry Potter or Grand Central Station.  Here is a beginner’s guide to buying model trains.

Model Trains Versus Toy Trains

It is important to note the difference between model trains with that of toy trains. Model trains are all about accuracy just look at your basic LGB starter sets and you will know what we mean.  Model trains are also constructed to scale and look eerily familiar with their real-life counterparts.  On the other hand, toy trains are less realistic, cheaper and generally are built to last longer than their model train counterparts. Examples include the simple wooden trains acting as pull toys and even some models of electric trains.

Model Train Layouts

The layout of model trains can range from tiny setups that run through indoor layouts to garden trains complete with garden railroad stock cars Technically speaking, trains that are big enough to ferry people are call miniature trains.  However, backyard railroads should not be mistaken for garden trains, as there are special design considerations that are applicable to outdoor layouts such as being weatherproof and resistant to animal tampering.


When we talk of size in train speak we are almost always referring to scale which is the relationship of the model train to the size of a real train.  For instance, a 1:22.5 scale model means that there is an inch of the model that corresponds to 22.5 inches on its real life counterpart.  Gauge on the other hand refers to the width of the track where the train runs. The fact that scale and gauge come standardized, meaning trains of the same scale utilize the same gauge, there is really no need to keep track of which gauges to go with scales.